Summer holidays: MEPs demand more clarity for tourism in COVID-19 crisis 

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MEPs gave overall positive feedback on the Commission’s transport and tourism package; however, many insist on more concrete actions and financial support ahead of the summer holidays.

The Transport and Tourism Committee discussed today the European Commission’s guidance on how to safely resume travel and allow tourism businesses to reopen:

  • Rebooting tourism: MEPs underlined the need to restore trust in safe travelling through additional concrete measures, as the current situation remains uncertain despite the proposed package. The Commission announced that a website on safe holiday options will be available in a few weeks’ time.

  • Financial difficulties: Many MEPs raised the issue of massive job losses, risk of bankruptcies in the sector, and commented on the lack of concrete help and specific short-term financial support as well as the need for a dedicated long-term budget line.

  • Safety concerns: With many questions on safely restarting tourism in the EU up in the air, the Commission pointed out that cooperation between the member states has improved and lifting travel restrictions, including opening borders, should be based on set criteria and strong health protocols. The Commission is encouraging member states to introduce certification schemes for safe travelling. A similar EU-level action, however, will not be feasible ahead of this summer.

  • Passenger rights: MEPs highlighted that the rules for reimbursements are being flouted too often in different member states. The Commission assured MEPs that they are following the issue closely and passengers retain the right to cash reimbursements.

Separate Committee discussions are planned on budgetary questions and long-term recovery plans for the sector.

Reactions from the Tourism Task Force Steering Group:

“This package is the first step to facilitate travel in Europe and Next Generation EU is the financial arm, which must be available already this year to support the sector”, said Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar (EPP, PT). “We were looking for a more ambitious and permanent budget to give a positive sign to companies and workers whose livelihoods depend on tourism.”

"The announcement on the recovery of Europe on Wednesday was historic. Nevertheless, I cannot silence my criticism,” said István Ujhelyi (S&D, HU) and explained: “Tourism is in dire need of investments but it is not clear where the dedicated budget and support is. We have learned that support works only when linked with a dedicated budget. Nice words do not feed the unemployed."

“More than ever, we need to enhance trust between travellers and businesses,” said José Ramón Bauzà Díaz (Renew, ES). “We welcome the package on tourism and transport; however, we call on the Commission to put together a further EU strategy for tourism, to respond not only to the current challenges, but also to the medium- and long-term needs of the sector.”

Committee Chair Karima Delli (Greens/EFA, FR) added: “Reopening the borders should be possible only if the public authorities have made sure the risks of a new COVID-19 wave are low. In any case, if borders are reopened, there cannot be any sort of discrimination and it should be based on clear criteria. Reopening the borders only between certain areas for purely economic purposes is unacceptable.”

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